Edited by Sheila Shaver
Female poverty is far higher in the USA than other wealthy democracies. In part, this is because the USA is more ‘market-based’ in its social policies. United States social policies have also been deeply shaped by socially conservative ideologies. The US welfare state is a ‘two-track’ system that reinforces both gender and racial inequalities. At the beginning of the twentieth century, welfare for single mothers was justified in maternalist terms but became increasingly contested as maternal employment grew and as more women of colour and unwed mothers gained access to welfare. Since the late 1960s, policy reform led to expansion of federal welfare-to-work programmes, which have largely tracked participants into low-wage jobs. Welfare reform policies in conjunction with child support and criminal justice policies have also sought to reinforce, through punitive means, the male-breadwinner role among poor men, who are disproportionately men of colour. This chapter then explores the role of the Christian right in shaping US social policies such as ‘abstinence only’ sex education and rollbacks of family planning programmes. We end by considering how the conjoined punitive turn in penal and welfare policies since the late 1980s has produced bans on welfare among ex-offenders and the criminalization of ‘dead beat dads’ and homeless people.
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.